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Roadside jewelry sales a scam

By STEVE MRAZ | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 26, 2008

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — It’s always a good rule of thumb not to buy jewelry on the side of the road from people you’ve just met.

German police apprehended a group of men last week who were running a jewelry scam on motorists outside U.S. military installations, according to German media reports.

The men, claiming to be from Eastern Europe, flagged down motorists, saying they had run out of gas and needed money, according to a report in the German newspaper Die Rheinpfalz. The scammers then would offer to sell jewelry to those who stopped. The jewelry, however, was fake.

It marks the second time in a year the scam has been perpetrated in the Kaiserslautern area, said Rebecca Sheldon, U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern spokeswoman. Four Kaiserslautern garrison employees saw the alleged scammers last week at two locations. The men were spotted on a road leading to Ramstein Air Base’s east gate and also off Autobahn 6’s Kaiserslautern east exit on a road to Daenner Kaserne.

“I personally think these scam artists sometimes target the American community because they know that Americans are concerned about Germany’s ‘Good Samaritan’ law,” Sheldon said. That law requires motorists to stop and help those in need on roadways.

Around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Christine June, a reporter/photographer with the Kaiserslautern garrison, stopped to help the men near Daenner Kaserne. One man was in a white sedan, and the other approached June, saying — in English — that his car had run out of gas, she said.

The man, who claimed he was from Yugoslavia, said he could sell her a Turkish gold necklace and ring at a good price, June said. Knowing that Yugoslavia no longer exists, June’s suspicions grew. “I did what I was supposed to do by pulling over, and then when I realized what was happening, I left,” June said.

June contacted a co-worker, who relayed the incident to German and U.S. military police.


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